Mental Illness and Gun Violence: Is Mental Illness The Sole Cause of School Shootings?

Writing this post has been a challenge. This topic is so heavy and my mind is literally every where. Although, I believe that the reason this post is so difficult to write is because this is human lives we are essentially talking about here. This is difficult to talk about because to sit down and actually have to fathom the fact that students as young as 12 years old even younger, are being murdered in their own school is just incomprehensible. It was just like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which tore all of us apart and as a nation we promised ourselves that we would never let this happen again.. But here we are.

I have been so determined to write this post for several reasons. One, after the horrific massacre at a high school in Florida, I started seeing a few arguments on twitter and face book about how mental illness is the issue or limited gun control is the issue. There was even a tweet or two that said "Mental Illness does not equal Violence" or "Having Mental illness does not make you a murderer".  

You all know that I am or try to be nonetheless, a advocate for mental health. I will be the first to tell you that our behavior and life first starts with how aligned and healthy our minds are. Everything starts from up there. I truly believe that in terms of mental illness and/or having a broken past, if we do not learn to truly love one another and sympathize with one another especially those struggling, it can definitely push someone to edge. Now.. do I believe mental illness is the sole cause of gun violence in our school & society? No. Actually, by doing as much online research I could, I came up with the conclusion that we need to be wise in the ways we dictate what is the main factor of a certain event, especially a tragic event such as a mass shooting, as to not add on to the stigma mental illness has already. 

There is something odd about blaming this country's gun violence epidemic solely on mental illness. Below I put in two statistics that stood out to me:

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, fewer than 5 percent of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the U.S between 2001-2010 were carried out by individuals diagnosed with mental illness. 

By 2016 the American Psychatrtic Association stated that the overall mass shooting by people with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homocides.

We have laws that allow a nineteen year old to get a hold of a gun, that is not even the age limit to be able to drink legally in California. Friends what is a teen boy doing with a AR-15 rifle? Scratch that, what is anyone doing with a AR-15 rifle? it is sad to note that "an AR-15 was also used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, which left 27 killed, including 20 children between 6 and 7 years old. It was also used in the mass shootings in San Bernardino, California, and Aurora, Colorado, that each left one dozen or more people dead" ( Jeremy Stahl, "The Slatest").  These are human lives, human lives we are talking about. It is as if we have forgotten the value of a human life and soul to the point where attaining a powerful object is most important. All I know is that in our day and age it is becoming way to easy for teens to get a hold of a gun/ rifle.

As a nation we need to do better.

This school shooting at Parkland High school could of very much been avoided, and it breaks my heart that as I write this, students are having to bury their friends, parents have to say goodbye to their son and daughters. I was reading an article from SunSentinel and it brought up so many questions for me, that if mental illness or "mental deficiency" as they call it.. was a prime factor, how did Nichols pass the background check? According to SunSentinel it says that " Cruz passed a background check, which looks at criminal history and whether someone has been found to be “mentally defective” by a court, said Peter Forcelli, the special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in South Florida".

Our bar is set way to low, I truly believe before we can even talk about the issue of mental illness in regards to gun violence, nothing can really change until we stop making these assault weapons so easy to get a hold of.

Your thoughts?  I know this post is probably all over the place, I guess that is what happens when I am passionate abut a topic. Let's not keep quiet about this.

Nikki O.


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